Food For Thought – Cook or Kook?
By no means do I consider myself a gourmet chef, but I do think I’m better than many. As a preschooler, I helped my grandma Mary with family recipes. I could pinch and close a pierogi like a pro, twist a krueller as well as her and replicate her famous pork and beans with my eyes closed. (She never let me help with the rum balls though.) As a teenager, I put together dinners for friends serving food I prepared myself. I’m not taking grilled cheese with tomatoes, but food like homemade egg rolls and pasta primavera. So I do know what I’m doing in the kitchen.
Like any activity though, after decades of doing it, the process can become quite stale. The internet has at least helped keep me inspired. Rather than rely on old tired recipes, I search using basic ingredients I have on hand to discover new ways to prepare familiar foods. There’s always a new take on old standbys like meatloaf, chicken and soups. Maybe it’s because of my history in the kitchen, maybe it’s my propensity towards being creative, what tends to happen is I start with a recipe and by the time it reaches the table, even if everyone loves it, we will never have it again because I will never be able to exactly recreate it.
Then there are days where I really do not feel like cooking or I don’t have a lot of fresh ingredients on hand. This is always my greatest challenge: Put together a dinner with random items in the fridge and pantry. This is where I often excel. Take tonight for instance. I had no interest in cutting, chopping, and sauteing. I opened the fridge and a brilliant idea occurred to me. I had leftovers from the Super Bowl dinner we shared with the neighbors. With a little vision, I created this:
But what exactly, you may wonder, is it?
It is Lisa’s Post-A Bowl Casserole. In a greased baking dish, I layered left over mostaccioli, italian beef and roasted peppers and heated it in the oven. In addition, I also used the leftover bread rolls and made garlic bread.